Global healthcare presents a $300 billion (€231.7 billion) market, according to Lux Research - one that, the consultancy believes, presents many addressable opportunities for plastic electronics.
These potential applications have been understood by developers for some time: a range of plastic electronics start-ups and R&D projects have focused on healthcare, from wearable wellbeing monitors to printed diagnostic devices.
A breakthrough in connecting the technology with pull from the market was recently made by UK start-up Molecular Vision, which announced an agreement to develop a companion diagnostic device with a leading European pharmaceutical chain.
Chris Hand, CEO of Molecular Vision, states: 'The partnership validates our technology and shows the industry's focus on personalised medicines, where companion diagnostic tests can help improve and guide treatment options, reducing healthcare costs. The partnership will take our companion device through prototyping and optimisation to manufacturing, validation, and market launch.'
The device will enable point-of- care (POC) analysis and will be based on the company's BioLED technology platform.
Device development is making good progress. For instance the EU-funded Sims project, launched in September 2010 to develop integrated sensor systems for analytical challenges in diagnostics, industry and the environment, is due for completion in December 2013. The aim is to create a smart miniaturised sensor system based on organic, flexible and printed electronics technologies, for application in diagnostics, the environment, and other areas. Sims aims to create a diagnostic device comprising of a sensor to read cholesterol levels, power from a printed source, organic circuitry, an electrochromatic display and data communications.
The project is now at a point where it can begin to integrate components onto a substrate to test the display, batteries and the sensors. Such projects offer particular promise because of the required engagement of commercial partners that could feasibly deliver a full product between them on completion.
Other companies, such as Nitto Denko, are looking at the healthcare market for the launch of their plastic electronic technologies, indicating the wider appeal to developers.
This article appears in full in Volume 5, issue 3 of +Plastic Electronics magazine. To read this article, along with more high-value, exclusive content, subscribe to +Plastic Electronics magazine
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